Monday, May 28, 2012

The Little Prince

"Here is my secret. It's quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."

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My three year old got this hat yesterday at church. With his boots, he reminded me of the little prince.

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He likes to feed the neighborhood ducks that fly in every evening at 5:30.

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He likes to find nooks to play in with his cars.

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He likes to wear those boots, a lot.

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He likes to not wear pants, a lot.

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When my memory fails, he tells me I "regot somefing."

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He wants to be just like his older brother and sister.

Here, he's "break dancing" with his older brother:

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He likes to do everything himself. At least, he likes to try.

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He's silly, sweet, and incredibly strong-willed, as many three year olds are.

And, he's feeling a little replaced.

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I don't know how to convince him that I love him just as much as ever. He manifests his anxiety by being by my side every waking moment of the day. He'll walk in circles just to follow me. (And yes, I have tested this theory.) He wants to talk to me constantly too, which is cute since the majority of words he strings together are pronounced incorrectly. But it becomes a problem when I'm trying to get the baby to sleep and he's at my side loudly saying "But mommy, I wanna tell you somefing! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"

How can I help him to feel less anxious? My others were a year younger when the new sibling came — maybe that's why they didn't react in this way. This is new territory for me as a parent. I'm trying really hard not to get frustrated with him, and betray that frustration in the tone of my voice. I know he just wants to feel loved.

I have a feeling that this is one of those problems that only time can solve. I'm okay with that. I'll spend as much time with my little prince as it takes.

As the fox in The Little Prince states,

"It is the time you have devoted to your rose that makes your rose so important."

Hopefully he grows to understand how important he is to me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last day, and last thoughts on Kindergarten

School's officially over — the kids are going to bed at 9:00 instead of 8:00 tonight. This is a big deal around here. And tomorrow, we'll wake up to summer. Actually, we're supposed to be waking up to an unseasonably cool (yet very welcome in my book) rain storm. But I won't be forcing myself out of bed to get the kids ready for school. Woohoo! We went to the local frozen yogurt joint to celebrate.

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My Kindergartner is now a first grader. He did it. He made it through the year, in spite of his inability to cut around the paper bear's ears at the beginning of the year. The gloomy outlook his teacher predicted that first week of school never came to pass.

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To his teacher, all I have to say is PBTHPBTHPBTH!!

(And I'll begrudgingly say "thank you" to her too, for helping my little guy with his handwriting in spite of her prejudice against his age.) Academically, he's ahead of the curve. He is a voracious reader. In hindsight, I can see that putting him in Kindergarten this year was the right choice for his particular set of strengths and setbacks.

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A list of the sight words for first grade came home today. He already knows how to read all of them, and spell a good portion of them. He still has some trouble not letting his anxieties get the best of him, but academically, he's more than ready to move on.

In the play the Kindergartners put on for the parents at the end of the year, all the children stood up and said what they wanted to be when they grow up. There were lots of veterinarians, teachers, policemen, and firefighters.

But there was just one cute little paleontologist.

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My daughter did wonderfully, too. She won one of the few golden star student awards in her class. Way to go, kiddo! Now she's going to be a third grader. How the heck did that happen? How did she grow up so fast? It seems like just a few years ago she looked like this:

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Sigh.

I swear, she aged three years in second grade alone.

First day of school:

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Last day of school:

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It was a good, challenging year for them. They both came out of it loving school and eager for August, when they go back.

Now, it's time for another kind of lesson — learning to live with each other all day again. There's looooots of conflict resolution training in our future. And someone needs to potty train my second to youngest.

Any volunteers? Anyone?

*tap* *tap* *tap*

(Is this thing on?)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Resurfacing and the eclipse

The baby is four weeks old now. The first few weeks after a baby is born are bizarre and much longer than the technical month. It feels more like two or three months have passed. The days and nights blur together, the air feels unsubstantial in my lungs, and I feel like I can't really focus my thoughts or my eyes past the task right in front of me until it's my turn to take a nap.

I spend a lot of time just watching my little guy — as he sleeps, as he nurses, as he soaks up some sunshine to help alleviate the newborn jaundice. He watches me, too.

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He wants to smile back; he just doesn't know how yet. He, too, is caught up in the task at hand. Eat. Burp. Learn to control that hand thing that keeps bonking eyes and nose.

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The smiles will come soon enough. Confused gazing is pretty cute in it's own way.

We've spent the last month being quiet and still in our house. It's been good for the healing process, for all of us. The 3 year old has finally settled down and is his old self again. Everything that's happened this past 4 or 5 weeks has affected him most of all. He had a hard time with the hospitals, with mom and dad coming and going and being very inconsistent, and with being thrown off his routine. Not to mention, the new sibling.

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It was a crazy month. After all the chaos, I haven't wanted energy and people and loudness. I've wanted the subtleness of the late afternoon sun filtering in through my living room windows. And endless naps.

Speaking of sun filtering in through the windows, I noticed this on my floor yesterday during the solar eclipse:

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We got the kids together and went outside to inspect the event. I had forgotten about the eclipse until I saw the crescents on my floor.

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A friend showed me that I could capture a picture of the eclipse, in miniature form as one of the sun spots, if I took a picture with my cell phone pointed directly at the sun:

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See the little crescent on his shirt?

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We walked around the yard looking for moon-shaped shadows. My three year old was very helpful in this process and insisted I take a picture of all of them.

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It was good to get out and get some fresh air and some gentle sunshine. The eclipse dropped the temperature noticeably and the soft lighting was beautiful.

Did you get to see the eclipse where you were?

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Our house has been a cocoon shielding me from every day life as I've regained my energy. It's been nice to have my husband home for so long. He is recovering well, too. I've loved having him here to hang out with, and help shoulder the burden of caring for the family. We have a good routine going — balancing diapers, feedings, pick-ups and drop-offs, and meals. The newest member of our family has fit right in to those routines. It feels like he's always been here.

Soon, everything is going to change. School gets out this week (already!?!) and summer is here. My husband will be back at work in a couple of weeks, just in time for fire season. With additional factors like reduced staffing of firefighters due to budget cuts across the state, and a fire season that is predicted to be pretty bad, it's likely that I'll lose my friend for much of the summer.

I need to get used to running the house on my own again. It's time to resurface. Thank goodness the next few months will only include the early mornings I choose for it to include!

Bring on the lazy summer days, I'm ready...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let's see what some paint can do - the family room

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A year ago today we excitedly entered the house we had just spent the whole morning purchasing. We finally owned a home of our own! I got to work that day, taping up the living room in plastic. I needed to paint it as quickly as possible since our week of prep time before the moving van arrived had been shrunk to a day of prep time, due to "one last hurdle" after another in the buying process. I stayed overnight at the new house with my daughter while my husband took the boys back to the old house to pack. That night, my daughter and I camped out in the empty house and listened to the sound of frogs croaking from the stream in the ravine next to us. It was, for lack of an original term, magical.

We've worked on a lot of projects over the past year. I would have been able to do more, had my energy not been turned in another direction — toward creating this sweet being.

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Now that I'm done with building the baby, I'm excited to get back to some of our to-do list.

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Today, I finished the family room. Here's what it looked like before:

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We wanted to paint the dark green fireplace, and take down the top half of the built-in entertainment center and paint it as well. We already did the fireplace, and today we put the finishing touches on the entertainment center. Here's how it turned out:

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I put the statue that was left here by the previous owners to good use. He analyzes the drawings.

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I've still got a few changes in mind, like putting some sort of something in the TV alcove — maybe pictures, or another one of my dad's sculptures. And the floors will all be redone one day. I'm leaning toward a driftwood colored wood floor. Maybe we'll get to the floors next year. I think I've got enough projects going on for now. I still have the game room to finish, and paint waiting for the kids' rooms. One project at a time.

Happy anniversary, house!

(You can view our other before and after house projects here: living room, kitchen, dining room)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Somehow I ended up birthing Jennifer Aniston's daughter, and other pressing matters.

1. There are some pictures and some looks that make me pause. This particular shot came home from school in my daughter's memory book; it's a picture of her with one of her best friends. I can't figure out what it is about her face in certain photos that reminds me of Jennifer Aniston. It very well could be just me, but If Brad and Jen did have a child...

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2. The baby and I have an abusive relationship. I started it, it's my fault. I don't think he's forgiven me for the birth canal experience. In return, he acts all cute and lovable, then causes the most severe host of pains imaginable every time he nurses. With the others the after pains and the nursing feeling like pliers being used to rip fingernails out didn't last this long. Then I hold his hand and smile while someone jabs a needle in his heel. I swear, we love each other. We'll work it out.

3. My husband is feeling better every day. I am, too.

4. Hospital beds that deflate or inflate every time you shift are bad for sleeping on, but fun for riding on.

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5. I have a positive reinforcement drawer. It contains chocolate and those freakishly addictive Starburst jelly beans. I allow myself a treat when I have to do something unpleasant, like wake up and stifle the screams of pain to feed the baby 10 minutes into my sleep cycle. It helps me stay sane. I've been using for a week now. I've already gone through nearly three bags of goodies. At some point this is going to be a problem. This is not that point. And thank goodness for a baby that isn't sensitive to chocolate!

6. School ends in just three weeks! There's a bunch of end of year stuff I'm supposed to be aware of. It's buried in the 8 inch tall stack of other pressing matters I'm supposed to be aware of, like bills and official birth certificate papers. The surgeries and the baby have pushed that stuff aside of late. I'll know life has returned to some variation of normal when I open the mail.

7. I have a stack of thank you cards waiting to go out, but I didn't even see half of the people that brought by dinner for my in-laws as they took care of the children during all of this. Thank you, food people! And thank you, Mom and in-laws!

8. Behold, the fruits of our labor:

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This is what three months in our back yard will get you. Yep, that's pretty much it. That was the biggest carrot of the three, and the entirety of our broccoli crop. There's also a handful of beets and onions the circumference of a dime that I decided to hold off yanking just yet.

The "winter garden" was mostly a test to see how things would grow in that spot. Apparently, not too well. But now we know what sort of pests we're dealing with, and what will survive the cold.

Slugs are not my friends.

9. Red crayons should not be included in the dry cycle. And the smell of WD-40 is very, very permeating. And it's sad to see the little red spots that are just not coming out of that soft outfit the baby hasn't even worn yet. Don't worry; he'll wear it anyway. I think people will be more focused on the big glob of spit-up on the shoulder than the random color splotches.

10. Oreo's should not be immediately followed by a swig of Mountain Dew.

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